The Quakers

Excerpt from Chapter 19 of Christ’s Faithful Servants, copyright 2023

. . . George Fox, Founder of the Quakers. George Fox[1] was the son of poor Puritans in Fenny Drayton, England. His father was a weaver, so young George had little education and was apprenticed to a shoemaker. He was deeply troubled by sin and its temptations. He consulted clergymen, but didn’t find the peace he sought. Then he read the Bible and found comfort in God’s boundless and eternal love. At age twenty-three, George felt called by God to preach, so he left home.

He wandered throughout England, preaching wherever he saw an opportunity. In many ways, his preaching resembled other branches of Protestantism, for it emphasized the Bible, the sinfulness of man, and the redemption purchased through Christ’s death. However, he departed from other Protestants in his emphasis upon the power of the Holy Spirit to guide each individual into truth and salvation. He contended that churches, ministers, and sacraments were not necessary, for God guides each individual through the light of the Holy Spirit. He preached that this Inner Light—or the “Christ within”—was the direct voice of God to each person. As such, it was superior to human reason and equal to the Bible in authority, though not contrary to it. Despite this emphasis on the Spirit, the Quakers’ devotion to the scriptures was rivaled among Protestants only by the Puritans.

Fox emphasized honesty, truthfulness, and the sincerity of religious life. He criticized many church traditions as contrary to, or unsupported by, the Bible. His outspoken impatience with what he saw as hypocrisy in the church often got him into trouble. He opposed both war and capital punishment, spoke out for social justice, and called for fair and humane treatment of the Native Americans. He believed in the equality of men—and women—before God. He was respectful to all, regardless of wealth or social status, but would not remove his hat to anyone. Relying upon Matthew 5:33-37,[2] he refused any form of oath.

Fox attracted some followers—and much opposition. . . .

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[1]. 1624-1691

[2]. Matthew 5:33-37 is part of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. It reads as follows:

Again, you have heard that the ancients were told, “You shall not make false vows, but shall fulfill your vows to the Lord.” But I say to you, take no oath at all, neither by heaven, for it is the throne of God, nor by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Nor shall you take an oath by your head, for you cannot make a single hair white or black. But make sure your statement is, “Yes, yes” or “No, no”; anything beyond these is of evil origin.